Rocket Man is in line for a fourth crack at the Dubai Golden Shaheen after completing his first barrier trial at Kranji, Singapore, since suffering swollen ligaments in May.
It is not a completely upbeat bulletin on the eight-year-old sprinter, however, as Patrick Shaw's Singaporean champion finished only third, the first time he had not won a barrier trial since 2008.
Rocket Man led for most of the way under Barend Vorster but was collared on the line by Foxtrot Hotel and Mr Epic.
"It was his first trial after a long break, and obviously we wanted to just give him an easy run," said Ricardo Le Grange, assistant trainer to trainer Patrick Shaw.
"He's still unfit, but he's back to his old self and bouncing around. Most importantly, he pulled up good and he will come on from that first trial.
"Hopefully he can have another two trials to bring him on. Ultimately, the plan is to race him once on the Polytrack over 1,200m before he goes to Dubai, which remains his main objective."
Rocket Man finished second to Kinsale King in the Dubai Golden Shaheen at Meydan Racecourse on World Cup night in 2010. He then made up for that defeat 12 months later by becoming the first horse from Singapore to register an international Group 1 success when holding off Bob Bafferts's Euroears.
A re-match with Kinsale King was on the cards last season before the American challenger was sensationally scratched from the Shaheen during World Cup week due to an allergic reaction. Rocket Man lost out to Krypton Factor, but all three previous winners remain on course to make the line-up on March 30.
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